Israeli activist arrested in Nabi Saleh and held in detention for 3 days on false charges

by Mairav Zonszein: +972 Magazine: 9 July 2012

IDF allegations that Israeli activist Elyakim Nitzany threw stones in Nabi Saleh had no evidence and no basis. Despite that, he was held in jail for three nights before being released. Another case of unfounded police claims.

Towards the end of the weekly protest in Nabi Saleh last Friday, a military jeep entered the village and a group of Border Police officers stormed out and arrested Israeli activist Elyakim Nitzany on the charge that he had assaulted IDF soldiers by throwing stones. (Two Palestinian women and an international activist were also arrested at the time, all of whom have since been released without charge.)

Read more on this issue: > Nabi Saleh: A tiny village’s struggle against occupation > Child arrested in night raid as repression of Nabi Saleh continues

Three days later, on Monday evening at about 6pm, he was released after a Jerusalem District Court judge ruled that there was no evidence to substantiate the soldiers’ allegation of assault. He was however indicted for “reckless behavior” and will face court proceedings for this charge. (In many cases, the very act of protesting the status quo can constitute “reckless behavior.”)

Attorney Gaby Lasky told +972 that the three Border Police officers who filed the claims against Nitzany requested that the judge hold him in custody until the end of proceedings, which could last years. The judge decided to release him Monday evening but barred him from engaging in any weekend popular resistance protests in the West Bank for the next the months – a highly irregular period of time.

According to Lasky, Nitzany’s prolonged custody was baseless and constitutes an infringement of his rights. “The same prosecution that demanded he be kept in custody reached the conclusion that there is no evidence to support the charge brought against him. In such a case, they should have released him [already on Friday] at the police station.”

In other words, since nothing changed between Friday evening and Monday, as far as the prosecution’s basis for its severe allegation of stone-throwing, there was no due cause for holding him all that time.

B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli, who has been documenting protests in the West Bank for years and was with Nitzany in Nabi Saleh on Friday, told +972 she she saw him throughout the demo and that he did no such thing. She signed an affidavit asserting as much.

Michaeli said it was a typical day of protest in Nabi Saleh: the IDF used tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and skunk water to disperse demonstrators. Palestinian youth eventually began throwing stones and clashes ensued between them . “No one is denying there were stones thrown but he [Nitzany] was not one of them. There were clashes throughout the day, but those arrested were not among those throwing stones, since the ones who do are kids who normally run back into the village the minute the army starts to enter.”

Michaeli stressed the fact that while Nitzany was clearly treated unjustly and his case exemplifies the limitations on freedom of protest here, it is still not comparable to how Palestinians in the same position are treated. “Palestinians are treated entirely differently than Israelis – subject to a completely separate and disrimantory legal system.”

Under Israeli law, an Israeli must be brought before a judge within 24 hours of arrest, while Palestinians from the West Bank – who are subject to an entirely separate legal system, the military courts – can wait up to 96 hours before their case reaches a judge. Indeed one Palestinian woman arrested in Nabi Saleh on Friday did not come before a judge till Monday, when her charges were dropped and she was released. Although Nitzany was also held in custody for three days, he did in fact see a judge the first time on Saturday evening, who decided to remand him based on the prosecution’s indictment. In both cases, the judge accepted the whims and discretion of the Border Police officer as fact, only to renege on them three days later.

This is not the first time an Israeli activist has been falsely arrested and charged of assaulting an officer during anti-Occupation demonstrations. Lasky also represented  an Israeli from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity Movement last year who was cleared of the charge that she attacked police. She says she has encountered problems with policemen’s false statements for years. “It’s important the court takes more decisive action…a policeman’s testimony should not be believed automatically,” she stressed.

Lasky also represented members of the J14 movement after mass arrests were made two weeks ago in which activists were accused of  the same charge –  assaulting an officer – despite no evidence to back the claim.

Nitzany’s case can be seen in the context of increasing police repression of Israeli protesters that includes false arrests and charges.  Such conduct against Palestinians – who often remain in detention for days, months, or years on end – has long been a common phenomenon, and Israelis seem to be increasingly facing such wrongful arrests during demonstrations against state policies in both the West Bank and inside the Green Line (though they are generally released within a few days).

Israeli activists went to the Russian Compound over the last few days to show support for Nitzany while he was in custody – as well as the four Israeli Ta’ayush activists who were arrested on Saturday for painting over anti-Arab graffiti in Susya and released Sunday.

Taking all these incidents together, there is certainly a sense that Israeli police practice towards Jewish citizens is becoming harsher. When it comes to behavior that challenges the state’s legitimacy, the authorities are so intent on muzzling dissidents, that they are willing to lock people up on false charges. They have been doing it to Palestinians for decades, and now it seems to be trickling down to Israeli activists.

All this may not come as such a surprise considering the news Sunday that a judiciary panel appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu concluded that there is, in fact, no occupation.

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Palestinian women in Nabi Saleh stand their ground against IOF “skunk” truck

At the weekly demonstration in Nabi Saleh two Palestinian women stand their ground in the face of the infamous skunk truck. The skunk truck is a mounted water cannon that sprays a foul smelling liquid at high pressures.

Video by Steve Plaank

Israeli Occupation Forces target women at Nabi Saleh demonstration

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 6 July 2012

Following last week’s success in reaching the confiscated spring, army used considerable means to repress this week’s demonstration. According to the protesters, the army mainly targeted women who were leading the protest. Three were arrested.

Picture by Oren Ziv/Activestills
Picture by Oren Ziv/Activestills

Several dozens of Nabi Saleh residents joined by supporters from Israel and abroad, joined the weekly protest against settlement expansion and the ongoing occupation this week. Protesters aimed to repeat last week’s historical victory of reaching the fresh water spring that was confiscated by settlers, with the support of the army, more than two years ago. They marched down the hill overseeing the spring, only to be met with extensive use of tear-gas canisters and rubber coated bullets. After reassembling, protesters tried to make their way through the main road of the village. There, the army resorted to using the “skunk” – a water cannon used to spray foul-smelling liquid on protesters. Targeting in particular two women leaders of the protests, the army sprayed massive torrents of liquid directly at them.

Three protesters were arrested by the army amidst the clashes: A Palestinian woman, an international solidarity activist and an Israeli activist. The three all spent the night in detention and should be brought in front of a judge. Under the Israeli apartheid legal system, an Israeli detainee has to be brought in front of a judge within 24 hours whereas a Palestinian can be detained for eight days before judicial review is stipulated. This is true even if both detainees were arrested during the same demonstration and are accused of the same charges.
Picture by Oren Ziv/Activestills 2
Picture by Oren Ziv/Activestills 

Background 

Nabi Saleh is a small village of approximately 550 people, twenty kilometres north west of Ramallah in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli colony of Halamish (also known as Neveh Tzuf ) was established on lands belonging to the villages of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham in 1976.   In response to the illegal colony being established on their land, the residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham began holding demonstrations in opposition to the stealing of their land and the establishment of the colony (whose establishment violates international law).    The residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham  lodged a court case against the colony in Israel’s high court, but were unable to stop the construction the illegal settlement.

Since its establishment in 1977, Halamish colony has continued to expand and steal more Palestinian land.   In 2008, the residents of An Nabi Saleh challenged the building of a fence by the colony on private Palestinian land and which prevented Palestinians from accessing their land.  The Israeli courts ruled that the fence was to be dismantled  Despite the Israeli court ruling, the colony continued to illegally annex more Palestinian land.  In the summer of 2008, the Israeli colonists from Halamish seized control of a number springs, all of which were located on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of An Nabi Saleh.
In December 2009, the village began weekly non-violent demonstrations in opposition to the illegal Israeli colony of Halamish annexing of the  fresh water springs and stealing of more of the village’s land.  Since An Nabi Saleh began its demonstrations, the Israeli military has brutally sought to repress the non-violent protests, arresting more than 13% of the village, including children.    In total, as of 31 March 2011, 64 village residents have been arrested.  All but three were tried for participating in the non-violent demonstrations.  Of those imprisoned, 29 have been minors under the age of 18 years and 4 have been women.

The Nabi Saleh (Arab) Spring

by Popular Struggle Coordination Committee: 29 June 2012

A weekly Nabi Saleh protest achieved a historic victory as protesters reached confiscated lands despite the presence of Israeli forces

Woman at

Dozens of residents of Nabi Saleh, joined by supporters from Israel and abroad, marked a historic victory on Friday when they succeeded in reaching the village’s confiscated spring. Protest in the small hilltop village started in December 2009 as a response to the annexation of the fresh water spring and stealing of more of the village’s land by the adjacent settlement of Halamish. Since then, weekly protests have continuously attempted to reach the spring but always met with harsh military violence. In the past few months, two women’s marches were able to reach the spring on weekdays, but this week marked the first time in which the Friday demonstration arrived to the site.

Two settles were bathing in the spring when a group of protesters arrived.  The two were guarded by an army battalion, put in place to ensure, so it seems, their peaceful recreation on stolen land. Additional Israeli forces arrived in the area and closed it in order to stop the demonstrators. Protesters placed a Palestinian flag at the site despite the anger of settlers and soldiers, and clashes broke out between the Palestinians and forces stationed in an army tower.  As protesters were making their way back to the village, Israeli forces attaked them with tear gas and stun grenades and the “skunk”. No injuries or arrests were reported.

Background

Nabi Saleh is a small village of approximately 550 people, twenty kilometres north west of Ramallah in the West Bank of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The Israeli colony of Halamish (also known as Neveh Tzuf ) was established on lands belonging to the villages of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham in 1976.   In response to the illegal colony being established on their land, the residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham began holding demonstrations in opposition to the stealing of their land and the establishment of the colony (whose establishment violates international law).    The residents of An Nabi Saleh and Deir Nidham  lodged a court case against the colony in Israel’s high court, but were unable to stop the construction the illegal settlement.

Since its establishment in 1977, Halamish colony has continued to expand and steal more Palestinian land.   In 2008, the residents of An Nabi Saleh challenged the building of a fence by the colony on private Palestinian land and which prevented Palestinians from accessing their land.  The Israeli courts ruled that the fence was to be dismantled  Despite the Israeli court ruling, the colony continued to illegally annex more Palestinian land.  In the summer of 2008, the Israeli colonists from Halamish seized control of a number springs, all of which were located on private Palestinian land belonging to residents of An Nabi Saleh. In December 2009, the village began weekly non-violent demonstrations in opposition to the illegal Israeli colony of Halamish annexing of the  fresh water springs and stealing of more of the village’s land.  Since An Nabi Saleh began its demonstrations, the Israeli military has brutally sought to repress the non-violent protests, arresting more than 13% of the village, including children.    In total, as of 31 March 2011, 64 village residents have been arrested.  All but three were tried for participating in the non-violent demonstrations.  Of those imprisoned, 29 have been minors under the age of 18 years and 4 have been women.

Nabi Saleh protesters reach confiscated spring

By Maan News: 29 June 2012

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A weekly Nabi Saleh protest achieved what activists called Friday a historic victory as they reached confiscated lands despite the presence of Israeli forces.
The demonstrators were able to reach a spring that was confiscated for the use of settlers, two of whom were bathing in it when a group of protesters arrived at the site.
Large numbers of Israeli forces arrived in the area and closed it in order to stop the demonstrators and secure it for settlers.
The protesters placed a Palestinian flag at  the site despite the anger of settlers and soldiers, and clashes broke out between the Palestinians and forces stationed in an army tower.
Israel’s forces fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse the demonstration.
Meanwhile, activists in Bilin village said a rally to break through Israel’s separation wall was stopped by Israeli forces, who fired tear gas and rubber-coated bullets, injuring two teens.
Abdullah Yasin, 19, was hit by a high-velocity tear-gas canister, while 18-year-old Ahmad Burnat was shot by a rubber-coated metal bullet in the foot, they said. Demonstrators threw stones at the forces, they added.